Healthcare and prosperity: The NHS at 75
Since the NHS’ first day in 1948, the nature of our health has changed profoundly. Infectious diseases are less prominent. Median survival following a cancer diagnosis has increased 600 per cent. Long-term conditions like dementia and type II diabetes have become more prevalent – as have mental health problems and the number living with obesity – and a greater number of us are living with multiple conditions.
As the NHS celebrates its 75th anniversary and with more of us living, longer, with more long-term conditions, healthcare is increasingly also a central determinant of our life chances. Or in other words, poor healthcare not only costs people their lives, but increasingly their livelihoods and wider wellbeing.
This was the key finding in the first interim report of the IPPR Commission on Health and Prosperity. There, we found that onset of sickness had a profound impact on earned income; constituted a key barrier to economic participation; and worsened job satisfaction. We also found that sickness was both more prevalent – and more detrimental – to people in lower income groups.
New IPPR/YouGov for this paper explores this further, with a focus on the impact of healthcare disruption. We find that many people are struggling to access the NHS healthcare they need, and people who struggle to access timely healthcare often had social or economic consequences – particularly, those who are already living with a life-limiting condition.
We also argue for fundamental changes in how we approach, fund, and locate healthcare.